Hey! This page uses OpenType variable fonts, which are only supported in the latest versions of Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari. To view this page properly open it in a supported browser.



Time of Day:23

Shadow Distance: 23





To my knowledge, Gnomon* is the first font ever to respond to the user’s actual time. The shadow of Gnomon* changes location throughout the day in relation to the time. Come back and refresh this webpage every couple of hours and watch as, like magic, the shadow moves to the sun!


Gnomon* is built using OpenType variable font technology, a new font standard that allows for user-controlled variables. In the past, font metrics, such as boldness or oblique angle, were limited to the few predetermined options made by the font designer. Users wanting precise control over metrics, such as boldness, were confined to using digital trickery or the few fonts with a large enough family to support their needs. With the introduction of OpenType variable fonts, users will be able to control font metrics using sliders, allowing endless possibilities.


OpenType variable fonts not only allow the creation of user-controlled inputs for familiar variables, such as font weight or width, but enable the designer to create new and unheard of variables. Many exciting experiments are already being done with this technology, see Axis-Praxis for some examples. What’s most exciting is all of the amazing things that it will allow future makers and thinkers to do. Things like a font that responds to the actual time of the user; things like a font with user-controlled wind; things not yet conceived of.




Gnomon* is a display font inspired by the bold and striking letterforms of American World War Two Posters. It has only one weight, and is ideal for standout headlines with retro vibes. Although limited in design and application possibilities, Gnomon* is a bold attempt at something new that stands on its own.


This font marks several firsts for indestructible type* and fonts. Gnomon* is the first font to respond to variables controlled by the user's location. The potential for this paradigm’s possibilities are endless. We can have fonts that respond to the weather of the user’s location, fonts that respond to lighting conditions, or fonts that respond to the location of the user’s cursor.

OpenType variable fonts are a new technology, and have not been explored much in general. This is the biggest thing to happen to digital fonts in the past twenty years. Because this technology is so new, there is very little support for graphic designers, but especially for font makers. I hope to be making and providing documentation to non-programmers like myself on how to utilize this very new and confusing technology.


Gnomon* is an interesting idea and proof of concept, but more than anything it is a promise of what’s to come. I am starting the slow process of migrating the entire indestructible type* font library to support OpenType variable fonts technology. I want to make indestructible type* the very first open source variable font foundry.

In the future, the above fonts will have editable metrics, like boldness or italic angle.




OpenType variable fonts are already supported by some applications, and the number of applications that support them continues to grow. Right now, the latest version of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator support OpenType variable font technology, and Gnomon* can be used natively.


Gnomon* has two versions, Gnomon* Foreground, and Gnomon* Simple. Gnomon* Foreground is a static font (it doesn’t use OpenType variable font technology) and is perfect for stand-alone use as well as use in programs that do not support variable fonts. Gnomon* Simple is a variable font, and is intended for background use under Gnomon* Foreground. Gnomon* Simple has two sliders, “Time of Day” and “Shadow Distance ”. These sliders work exactly as they do on this page, however the “Time of Day” slider goes from 6 to 18.


OpenType variable fonts are supported on the latest versions of Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Gnomon* has a version designed specifically for web use which is available for download in the Gnomon* repository. Css-tricks.com has a fairly decent tutorial on OpenType variable font web use. To get the effect of responding to the time of day, I run a javascript script that updates the font-variation-settings css property to correspond with the time of day.




Created by indestructible type*